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Date: 04/24/2014
Physics of Superheroes

Physics Professor James Kakalios explains how comic books can teach physics. 


Dr. James Kakalios

While Dr. James Kakalios is known in the scientific community for his work with amorphous semiconductors, pattern formations in sandpiles, and fluctuation phenomena in neurological systems, he is renowned among his students at the University of Minnesota for the freshman seminar class that he developed and teaches titled, "Everything I Know About Science I Learned from Reading Comic Books," based on scientific principles derived from superhero comic book characters. James says that while in reality we all know that we cannot run faster than sound or stretch ourselves like rubber bands like some comic superheroes, writers of such fiction -- while suspending our sense of disbelief -- can apply existing laws of physics to supernatural actions, helping the comic characters find creative solutions to the problems they face. "Think creatively," James tells his students. "Creative problem solving is what appeals to me in physics as well as in comic book stories."

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